LIVE REVIEW: Against Me!, Milk Teeth, The Electric Ballroom, London, 08/12/2016
Against Me! are a band that has managed to maintain a huge following over decades. Since the release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues, their importance in the LGBTQ+ punk scene has led the crowd tonight to be a great mix of all genders and ages. The chance to catch them in a relatively intimate venue such as the 1,000 capacity Electric Ballroom was too good an opportunity for us to pass up.
Unusually, there were only two bands on the bill tonight. Milk Teeth’s static-y grunge pop compliments the more straightforward punk rock of the headliners. As a band who’ve played large shows and festivals before, and who are starting the New Year off with a bang by touring with Creeper, they are more than comfortable in this setting. We were familiar with the old favourites they play: Swear Jar will forever be a great song to hear live. Still touring on their album Vile Child, which was released almost a year ago, we also get to hear Crow’s Feet and Burger Drop, which particularly stand out in the band’s set.
Having worked up the crowd, but still not satisfied the more hardcore fans in the audience, there is palpable excitement in the room and a certain impatience for Against Me! to walk on stage and start playing. We can’t help feeling it too. Despite their down-to-earth nature, a band as formidable as this couldn’t help but dominate the show.
When Against Me! do come on stage, they open with True Trans Soul Rebel. This is much to the delight of the crowd, who immediately start piling up against the barricade with even more enthusiasm than before, singing the lyrics right back at the band. A mosh-pit forms a little further back from the front. Knowing that the setlist is a long one, we wondered whether the crowd could keep up this level of energy for the duration of the show. We needn’t have worried. Even after the four-song encore, which finishes with Sink, Florida, Sink, it’s clear that everyone could have heard more. We had great fun feeding off the energy from this crowd, who were throwing their fists in the air and screaming the lyrics. I Was A Teenage Anarchist and FuckMyLife666 are our personal favourites of the night; we’re a little disappointed that Thrash Unreal isn’t played, but with a discography as extensive and good as theirs, there’s always bound to be songs left out!
The distinctive guitar intro to Black Me Out makes for an emotional “final” song. It really highlights to us just how much Against Me! are about transformation and growth. It’s not often a band can elicit such a genuine response from an audience as diverse as this. Against Me! are a wonderful example of how relevant political punk and punk that deals with social justice is as we go into 2017. In fact, we would say that this activism through music is needed more so than ever.
Written by: Kathryn Woods